Can a Pre-Nup Agreement Protect You Regarding Spousal Support in CA?
Prenuptial agreements are often signed by those getting bound by a marriage contract to protect certain rights and to give themselves exemptions from certain liabilities, in case the marriage doesn’t work out. It can be a pretty useful piece of agreement in case something unforeseen happens.
However, many can’t get past a mental block because of a common perception that it shows lack of love and trust between the partners. However, most experts suggest that these apprehensions are unfounded.
Prenuptial agreement under California laws
Prenuptial agreements in California are governed by its Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. So, in California, a prenuptial agreement is basically known as a premarital agreement and it is a legally binding document that encompasses most aspects of en engaged couple’s life, post marriage.
It mainly deals with the financial aspects of a family, namely asset ownership but it can address spousal support. Section 1610 of the Uniform Premarital Agreement defines the word “property” and defines its domain. The partners will be protected from each other’s debts in case of a divorce and the property and income settlements may be made as per the agreement clauses, as long as they fulfill the tenets of law. With regard to issues of spousal support, as long as what is agreed to is not “unconscionable” (meaning substantially one-sided and unfair to one of the parties) at the time of entering into the agreement, such provisions can be enforceable, but it is highly advisable that you have a family law attorney draft such provisions with care.
Family Code Section 1612 defines the clauses that can be inserted into a pre-nup agreement under California laws and what can’t be. It mainly deals with financial decisions made during the tenure of a couple’s marriage. It strictly prohibits making any contract about the rights of a child and their support since CA laws clearly state that their rights can’t be infringed upon by those of their parents, in case of a divorce. It also provides an understanding of your liability towards spousal support or alimony and states that you may not be able to invoke this agreement if the party against whom this agreement is being used was coerced, not represented by an independent counsel or is being invoked with unconscionable objectives.
A party can waive his or her right to an independent legal counsel, prior to entering into a premarital agreement but it should be supported by a waiver written and notarized on a paper separate from the prenuptial agreement. There must also be a gap of seven days before signing the agreement and must have the legal capacity to sign it. If a party is not proficient in English, the agreement must be translated into his/her native language and is entitled to a full disclosure of terms, rights and obligations of the agreement. The agreement can’t be invoked in case of violation of some public policies, as defined by the laws in California.
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